Or a Huge Liability
|by Terence Ronson, HOTEL Asia Pacific, September 2004
In this cyber era, the nomenclature of room service has shifted away from just delivering breakfast and won-ton noodles. Hotels now have the requirement of a Mr Fix-It to attend technical and computer-related needs of their ever-increasing segment of high-yield road-warrior guests.
This state-of-the-art development brings with it the deployment of technology butlers –trouble-shooters on call around the clock and [hopefully] well trained in the art of resolving a slew of problems relating to computers, communications and connectivity.
The range of tasks that these technology butlers have to solve is growing almost daily. There are the usual problems with connecting to the internet, voltage and phone-point conversion, accessing emails and printing documents.
Then there are the thorny issues of connecting PCs to plasma screens, organising conference calls, transferring data from USB memory sticks to PCs, connecting digital video cameras to inroom TVs.
And increasingly, technology butlers are having to address security concerns among guests.
Although many of these issues can be resolved via a quick-fix solution, hoteliers must always remember that guests are often tired, jet-lagged and frustrated at their own inadequacy to resolve the problem.
Perhaps they have been unable to get hold of their inhouse tech-support department located half a world away in a different time zone while trying desperately to meet a deadline.
Technology butlers must, therefore, have boundless patience and great inter-personal skills. As hotels morph into the cliched “office-away-from-office”, these guests look to them as their own on-the-road tech support.
Hoteliers need to have a grasp of not only technological developments, but also the capabilities and limitations of the infrastructure of their properties. They should develop a list of possible problems and their solutions, which should be continuously updated as issues arise – whether from the call centre, housekeeping, front office, business centre or F&B department. All problems and solutions should be consolidated in a centrally coordinated location.
It should then be determined where the first line of support happens, and at what times they are likely to be needed. Guests are usually out during the day and return around 6pm – the same time as most check-ins occur, along with the need to get connected. This same pattern often extends into the early hours of the morning as guests return from dinner and work with US time zones.
If an escalation process is required, which staff members will be on hand? Problems and their time-to-fix are important in the eyes of guests, especially at 2am when they may have been trying for several hours to send off an urgent report and are now at their wits’ end.
Having someone sympathetic standing by and knowing how to fix the problem is paramount at this critical juncture in delivering excellent customer service.
As these primary guest-contact staff may be called on to make quick decisions at unorthodox hours, they should be empowered accordingly – for example, to loan the guest a computer in his room or to open up the business centre.
Remember that a guest’s computer is precious, and should not be tampered with by an inexperienced staff member who may not understand a certain operating system and fumble around blindly. This can instil fear, uncertainty and doubt among guests worrying about losing data.
Bear in mind that business travellers are on a mission which they need to accomplish within a limited period of time. Any hotel that acts as their “office-away-from-office” has an implied obligation to make that mission possible, with properly trained staff.
It is essential that, before any staff member touches a computer, an indemnity waiver is signed by the guest relinquishing the hotel of any responsibility.
Although many guests use Windows operating systems on their laptops, the market is evolving and an increasing number of people are switching to Macs (due in no small measure to the iPOD explosion), so hotel technology butlers must be comfortable with both systems.
You should also have a list of the top-20 computer companies and their local support numbers, as well as global ISPs (internet service providers) and calling-card service providers.
With the incredible advances being made in portable technology, your guests will be arriving with a whole array of gizmos and gadgets that are bound to go wrong at some time or other.
If you can help them out fast and efficiently, they will remember it
a lot longer than the welcome bowl of fruit or free drink in the bar.
Copyright HOTEL Asia Pacific.
First appeared in HOTEL Asia Pacific
Hotel Asia Pacific
158 Wong Uk Tsuen
Tel: +852 2882-7352
Fax: +852 2882-2461
|Also See||A Happy Union? Raffles International’s Recent Labour Troubles in Cambodia Raise Interesting Issues / HOTEL Asia Pacific / August 2004|
|Jerk Alert: Gung-ho Sales People Trying to Sell their Gadgets or Services to a Hotel / HOTEL Asia Pacific / July 2004|
|Le Meridien's First Art+Tech Property in Asia Aims to Raise the Benchmark; Typical Reception Desk has Been Banished / HOTEL Asia Pacific / July 2004|
|Le Meridien Revs Up the Momentum; Obtains New Long-term Partnerships with Several High-profile/ HOTEL Asia Pacific Asia Pacific Hotel Owners as Recapitalisation Strategy Continues / June 2004|
|Chef In a Suit; Christian Abell explains why he hung up his chef's whites and put on a suit and tie to take over as F&B director at the JW Marriott Hong Kong / HOTEL Asia Pacific / February 2004|
|Asia Pacific Hotel Leaders Michael Issenberg, Miguel Ko, Patrick Imbardelli and Koos Klein Look at What Lies Ahead; The Greatest Challenge is Uncertainty / HOTEL Asia Pacific / January 2004|
|Senior Hotel Executives Are Scratching Their Heads Over an Annual Dilemma: What, if Any, Adjustments Should They Make to Next Year’s Payroll? / HOTEL Asia Pacific / December 2003|
|Why Indian Hotelier Jagsish Rai Sood Chose to Partner with Shangri-La to Operate His Latest Property in New Delhi / HOTEL Asia Pacific / December 2003|
|The World's Biggest Hotel Chains Planning Major Expansion in Asia; China Hotel Industry is the Certain Winner / HOTEL Asia Pacific / December 2003|
|K.P. Ho, Chairman of Asian-based Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts, Discusses the Strategy Behind the Award Winning Brand; Building Banyan as Told to HOTEL Asia Pacific / November 2003|
|Patrick Imbardelli, InterContinental Hotel Group’s Managing Director for Asia Pacific, is ‘Divorcing’ Owners Who Don’t Fit In with the Group’s Values / Steve Shellum HOTEL Asia Pacific / November 2003|
|HOFEX Organisers Faced a Tough Choice When SARS Devastated Their Plans; Rescheduled Event Poised to Bounce Back in Hong Kong / November 2003|
|Terrorism: Who’s Liable? The Legal Status of Hotel Owners and Management Companies / Andrew MacGeogh, HOTEL Asia Pacific / October 2003|
|The Inside Story on How InterContinental Hong Kong Managing Director Jennifer Fox Teamed Up with Michelin Chef Alain Ducasse to Create a/ HOTEL Asia Pacific New Benchmark for Hotel Restaurants in Asia / Steve Shellum, HOTEL Asia Pacific / October 2003|
|Preview of the Wonderful and Wacky World of the W Seoul; Aiming to Break the Mould of Asia's Traditional Hotels / Steve Shellum, HOTEL Asia Pacific / October 2003|
|Chiller Replacement Project; How The Grand Hyatt Singapore Applied a Holistic Commercial View / HOTEL Asia Pacific / October 2003|
|Assessing Hotel Security; HOTEL Asia Pacific Magazine / Pertlink Re-Issue Hotel Security Checklist / August 2003|
|Pressure Cooking: Florian Trento, Executive Chef at the Peninsula Hong Kong, Explains How He and His Team Coped During the Bleakest Days of the SARs Crisis / HOTEL Asia Pacific / June 2003|
|Crisis Management: Could You Cope if the Unthinkable Happened / HOTEL Asia Pacific / June 2003|
|Back to Normal After SARS? Let’s Hope Not.../ HOTEL Asia Pacific / June 2003|
|Fighting Spirits! Rank-and-file Staff at Bali InterContinental Resort Talk About Their Hopes, Fears, Dreams / HOTEL Asia Pacific / April 2003|
|On the Chopping Block; Are You Prepared If You Get Your Marching Orders?/ HOTEL Asia Pacific / April 2003|
|Trevor Bilney, Executive Chef at the Bali InterContinental Resort, Fights Hard Since Last October 12; Keeps Morale Up and Costs Down / HOTEL Asia Pacific / March 2003|
|Hotels Stepping Up Security; Learning to Live with the Threat of Terrorism as Part of Conducting Everyday Business / HOTEL Asia Pacific Survey / March 2003|
|50% of Hoteliers Have Not Increased Investment in Security – More than a Year After the September 11 Attacks / HOTEL Asia Pacific Survey / December 2002|
|Security: Something No Hotel Can Ignore / Geoff Griswold / Summer 2002|
|Biometrics Lend a Hand to Hotel Security / Feb 2002|
|Hotels Near Airports Provide Better Safety and Security Features According to The Center for Hospitality Research - Cornell Hotel School / Dec 2002|